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COVID-19 causes TV production stoppages

“Men Are Men” poster /“Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol” poster (KBS)
“Men Are Men” poster /“Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol” poster (KBS)

The South Korean entertainment industry could face a shutdown with the growing number of COVID-19 infections among TV cast and crew members.

Terrestrial broadcaster KBS is on alert after a member of the cast of “Men Are Men” was confirmed to have the new coronavirus Wednesday. While all related staff have tested negative, production at the network is encountering mass delays.

A public relations official from KBS said Friday that actor Seo Seong-jong of the KBS2 drama was confirmed infected the previous day. Seo took part in shooting for “Men Are Men” on Aug. 14, showed symptoms of fever around Sunday, and was tested Tuesday.

All cast and crew members who were on site with Seo that day have gone into quarantine after being tested Wednesday night. According to the KBS official, none have been confirmed positive but all will stay under quarantine for two weeks.

The show’s lead actors, Hwang Jung-eum and Yoon Hyun-min, did not take part in Sunday’s shooting but Hwang canceled an interview in regard to the worsening COVID-19 situation.

Meanwhile, the upcoming drama “Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol,” which had halted production because some of its staff were also involved in the production of “Men Are Men,” said the shutdown would continue as cast member Heo Dong-won was confirmed with the virus Thursday. Heo, who is also performing in the stage play “Jjam-bbong” with Seo, seems to have been infected by Seo. Actor Kim Won-hae, who stars in the same play, tested positive the same day but it is not known how he got the virus.

Following the news of Heo’s infection status, fellow “Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol” cast member Seo Yi-sook was tested and went into self-quarantine on Thursday. The results will come out tomorrow, her agency, Quantum ENM, said. Seo also has a role in the tvN drama “Startup,” and the cable channel said shooting will be halted until the test results are known.

Although not directly related to the dramas, KBS’ popular variety show “2 Days & 1 Night,” which involves outdoor shooting in different regions, has also halted production because of the resurgence of the coronavirus.

Actor-comedian Oh Man-seok of JTBC’s “Just Comedy” was reported to have gone into quarantine to await his test results after coming into contact with an infected person. JTBC said filming has been put on hold, with all staff quarantined, and that the building has been disinfected.

Major radio and television productions here, which inevitably involve close contact among dozens of people, have experienced setbacks due to the recent coronavirus resurgence. Radio network CBS became the first major broadcaster to shut down after a reporter tested positive Tuesday. EBS stated Thursday that four of its staff, including one outsourced producer and two guest panel members, had tested positive.


By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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